Of all the subjects the NY Times editorial board could chime in on, this one’s a hoot (don’t worry, though, because I have another one set up for later today)
The landscape of eastern North Carolina is dotted with giant pools of bright pink sludge. These are waste lagoons, where industrial farms across the state dispose of billions of gallons of untreated pig urine and feces every year.
The waste can carry E. coli, salmonella, cryptosporidium and other bacteria that can lead to serious illness or death if they spread to humans. After Hurricane Matthew deluged North Carolina this month, at least 14 of the lagoons flooded.
Environmental advocates and state officials have been flying over regions to identify overflowing lagoons where floodwaters have become mixed with the waste, a public health hazard that could last for weeks as bacteria flow into rivers and streams, potentially sickening those who come into contact with those waters.
Bacteria can also contaminate groundwater, the main source of drinking water for more than three million North Carolinians. Meanwhile, the nitrogen and phosphorus in hog waste can kill fish and damage ecosystems. State officials are now beginning to test rivers to assess the level of contamination.
Now, this is certainly a concern from a purely environmental and health point of view. And boy howdy do they smell. We used to drive by one on the way from ECU to Emerald Isle back in the day, and if the wind was wrong, even rolling up the windows made no difference. That said, I’m assuming the NYTEB will assault the pig farms in NY state and refuse to eat any pork, right? Wait for it
In states where hog farmers use waste lagoons, like North Carolina and Illinois, flooding is a serious hazard that may become more frequent as climate change leads to more severe storms. Even under normal conditions, lagoons can produce dangerous gases, noxious smells and dust containing hog waste. People living near these lagoons are at increased risk of asthma, diarrhea, eye irritation, depression and other health problems.
North Carolina took steps toward protecting its residents by passing a moratorium on new lagoons in 1997 and making it permanent in 2007. But around 4,000 lagoons constructed before 1997 remain in active use. Unless North Carolina and other states require agriculture companies to change their waste-disposal methods, what happened after Hurricane Matthew will happen again.
So, what recommendations are the NY Times editorial board offering? Really, none. And without offering solutions, that’s what you call “whining.’ The point here, though, is to whine about ‘climate change.’ These people. Sheesh.